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The Bright Side

This Is Your Brain on Cardio

This Is Your Brain on Cardio

We’re all looking for feel-good news stories while we’re cooped up at home practicing self-isolation. So before you turn into a couch potato with one too many servings of comfort food, let’s talk about the benefits of cardio exercise. Cardio just might be your secret to staying young, biologically speaking, and can help people of all ages remain mentally acute.

Exercise, especially cardio, can do wonders for your brain. A study, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, reports that cardio can slow cognitive changes in the brain. Study participants were asked to use an exercise bike, while researchers analyzed their cardiorespiratory fitness levels alongside MRI brain data. Too busy to read the report? We’ll paraphrase: the benefits of cardio exercise are more than skin deep.

Human brain tissue is composed of both gray and white matter. When looking at certain metrics related to brain health, scientists found that increased oxygen resulted in a higher volume of gray matter. Gray matter is associated with skills and cognitive abilities, which can deteriorate with time. Just like the body, the brain experiences wear and tear as the years go by. 

A Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons study corroborates these findings. Following a period of consistent aerobic activity in participants, researchers evaluated cognitive skills such as episodic memory, attention, language, processing speed, and executive function in 132 adults between the ages of 20 and 67. Executive function is important because it refers to skills needed to pay attention, have a working memory, focus, and follow directions. As we age, these executive function skills can decline in some people, negatively affecting their quality of life. 

After six months of observation, the Columbia University researchers concluded that executive function improved in participants of all ages. The relationship between cardio activity and executive function is particularly important because this helps you do everything from managing time to multitasking. Dealing with multiple projects, shifting deadlines, and changing priorities requires a high degree of executive function. In other words, these mental abilities help you bring your ‘A’ game.

The bottom line: The results suggest cardio exercise is good for the brain and may help slow the loss of gray matter as we age. More research needs to be done to better understand this link and what it means for our health. But in the meantime, you have another reason to make time for a training session on your MYX bike. Our on-demand workouts mean you don’t have to leave your home to get in a sweat session, especially when you’re trying to avoid people and germs. Climb, push, and sprint to a healthier life with our cardio-boosting rides of varied types and durations. Hop on the bike, #myxitup, and do your brain and body a world of good!

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